Last Updated on January 6, 2024 by April Verge
Looking for the best things to do in Strasbourg in December? Then you’re in the right place!
Strasbourg is a lovely Alsatian town in France that blends French and German culture with a fascinating history. The first historic city center to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is situated along the Rhine River near the German/French border.
Strasbourg, which has been inhabited since the 14th century BCE, evolved into a Celtic market town and then a significant Roman military castra. It is home to a number of significant European institutions, including the European Parliament and the Court of Human Rights, and has a strategic location in the Upper Rhine Valley.
Even in the December, there is a ton lot see and do in Strasbourg, the ninth-largest city in France. The city is renowned for its Germanic timbered architecture in the Petite France neighborhood and its medieval city center, known as the Grande Île.
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If you are in a hurry, here’s a summary of what to do in Strasbourg in December:
Strasbourg Weather in December
With an average temperature that ranges from 41°F (5°C) to a low of 30°F (-1°C) in Strasbourg, France, December, the first month of the winter, is still a chilly month.
Does it snow in Strasbourg at Christmas? Snowfall occurs from January through March and from October through December. Strasbourg experiences the most snowfall in December, when it snows for 4.4 days and accumulates up to 40mm of snow on average.
Strasbourg experiences its shortest days of the year in December, with an average of 8 hours and 24 minutes of daylight. The sun rises at 07:59 and sets at 16:36 on the first of the month. Sunrise on December 31 occurs at 08:21 and sunset is at 16:42 CET.
How Long to Stay in Strasbourg in December
I suggest allowing at least two full days to Strasbourg, one of Europe’s top locations for Christmas markets and festive joy, so that you can tour the city and its markets.
I advise taking at least one day trip from Strasbourg to a beautiful village (or two or three) to get a sense of the region outside of the capital city if you aren’t visiting anywhere else in Alsace as part of your December trip.
Taking the train from Strasbourg to Colmar is wonderfully easy and enjoyable, and Colmar in December is just as magical as Strasbourg!
Strasbourg in December Quick Guide
1. Strasbourg Cathedral
If you want to enjoy phenomenal and breathtaking views over the city, Strasbourg cathedral is the place to start. Here, you get to see the entire beautiful city of Strasbourg stretching out before your eyes. When you visit Strasbourg Cathedral during the winter season, you get the bonus of seeing some of the famous Christmas markets in the city. The view is phenomenal during this time of the year.
The cathedral itself features an elaborate rose window and an astronomical clock. Climb the north tower and get to enjoy the breathtaking views of the city and the Black Forest as well. When you are here, remember, this was the world’s tallest building up until 1874.
Additionally, the Cathedral holds a large Nativity Scene throughout the Christmas season, as well as a Christmas Market outside on the steps, where vendors offer crafts, wooden toys, decorations, and other items.
2. Petite France
The term “Petite France” refers to a district in Strasbourg’s historic district. Due to the fact that it formerly housed the city’s tanners, millers, and fishers, it is also known as Tanner’s Quarters. Just before reaching Petite France, the River Ill divides into four smaller canals, which are crossed by the Ponts Couverts (which isn’t actually covered).
Petite France is a picturesque and lovely maze of half-timbered houses with open lofts for tanning skins, mill wheels and weirs, and winding, tiny alleyways. The sector was largely built in the 16th and 17th centuries, and now it is a well-liked tourist area with some restaurants serving Alsatian cuisine.
Pro tip: be aware that some of the wooden bridges are really canal locks, and you may need to get off them if a boat approaches. So while shooting pictures while standing on a bridge, be aware of that.
3. Palais Rohan
Considered one of the most important historical buildings in Strasbourg, this is a must see palace. It features several state rooms and grans halls including a grand salon, the bishop’s throne room. And the chapel.
This palace also hosts several museums including the famous Musée des Arts Decoratifs featuring a collection of beautiful decorative arts from the 18th and 19th century. The breathtaking Episcopal palace is a great example of French Baroque-Rococo architecture and will make your jaw drop once you take a tour of the palace.
4. The Christmas Tree at Place Kléber
It is the central and arguably the largest Strasbourg square. During the Christmas season, a huge Christmas tree is placed here making the place a delight during winter. Every year, the Christmas tree is decorated differently and there is a traditional Christmas market around the huge Christmas tree.
It is a real tree, and the director of the French Forestry Office looks for it every year beginning in March in the woods of Alsace and the Vosges Mountains.
Strasbourg residents used to place presents for the less fortunate at the base of the large tree. There is now a “Village of Sharing,” a Christmas market with 85 stalls manned by organizations including the Red Cross and Médecins du Monde.
Place Kléber is surrounded by notable buildings including Palais Rohan, Hotel de Ville, and the city’s opera house. A statue of Jean-Baptiste Kleber who the square is named after stands at the center of it. If you love interactive activities during winter, you can participate in decorative workshops in Place du Marché Gayot where there is another Christmas tree set up.
5. Barrage Vauban
This is a beautiful bridge with an amazing viewing terrace where one can enjoy the beauty of Petite France and Ponts Couverts. The bridge is a beautiful stone structure spanning the Ill River and connecting the Grande Île and the Petite France. It is an amazing spot for visitors to take a walk admiring the city’s views. The bridge also features a small museum that tells the story of the life of Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban and dedicated to the history of the city’s fortifications.
6. See the Ponts Couverts de Strasbourg
Ponts Couverts is a series of defensive bridges and tower along River III. The bridges are very old and together with Place Kleber and the Barrage Vauban, they make part of the UNESCO World Heritage. These historic structures provide a glimpse into the past and how people used to travel and connect. They also offer a peaceful and charming atmosphere that is hard to see in today’s fast-paced world. Stroll through the covered bridge during winter and enjoy the lush plantations and the sound of the nearby river.
7. Take a River Cruise with Batorama
In my opinion, boat excursions are a fantastic way to discover a river or canal city, despite the fact that they may look touristic. After all that walking, they provide you with a totally unique perspective of the area and are also incredibly comfortable.
There are no weather concerns in the winter because the boats are heated and enclosed (with panoramic glass coverings). The voyages circle the Grande Île and last for roughly an hour. It’s a really laid-back (and pleasant!) way to see Petite France, Neustadt, and the European Quarter, which is home to the European Council’s offices. Neustadt is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
8. Visit a museum in Strasbourg
The Alsatian Museum, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Oeuvre Notre-Dame Museum, and Decorative Arts Museum are just a few of Strasbourg’s excellent museums. The Alsatian Museum, housed in three renovated homes, exhibits daily life for Alsatians in the 18th and 19th centuries. With around 5,000 objects in its collection, it offers a singular window into Alsace’s rich past.
In addition to a sizable collection of sculpture and artwork from the Upper Rhine Basin that spans seven centuries, the Oeuvre Notre-Dame Museum also has an excellent collection of medieval French artwork. The Palais Rohan houses the Museum of Decorative Arts.
Its 200-year-old collection of renowned ceramics, furniture, clocks, home furnishings, vermeil artifacts, paintings, sculptures, and other items depicts Strasbourg’s lavishly gilded nobility. Visit the brand-new Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, which is situated by the river, for a more contemporary perspective on art. It was constructed in 1998, and its collection spans the period from Impressionism to the present.
9. Enjoy the Strasbourg Christmas Markets
The oldest Christmas market in Europe is located in Strasbourg. The earliest Strasbourg Christmas market in the area was called “Christkindelsmärik” and it was held in 1570, according to historical documents.
Every year, approximately 300 vendors set up shop in Place Broglie to sell anything from artisanal items to handcrafted crafts, as well as typical Alsatian dishes, mulled wine, and holiday decorations.
While the Place Broglie Christmas Market in Strasbourg may be the oldest and most well-known, it certainly isn’t the only one! There are ten Christmas Markets in Strasbourg, and they all provide something for everyone.
Mid-November marks the beginning of the city’s Christmas lighting and ornamentation. The Strasbourg Christmas market 2023 is scheduled from November 24-December 24, 2023.
10. Try Some Alsatian Wine and Food
The culture of a place may best be understood via its local cuisine and wine, and nowhere is this more true than in the Alsace region. The gastronomy is a delightful fusion of French and German flavors, ranging from strong cheeses and foie gras to very acidic Rieslings (a vestige of the German past).
Explore the Alsace Wine Route aka Route du Vin, stopping at several wineries and guesthouses to sample their regional specialties and vintages, to get the full experience. Raclette, tarte flambée, baeckeoffe, and choucroute garnie are typical Alsatian dishes. Wines range from Riesling to powerful reds.
Strasbourg in December Map
Final Thoughts on Strasbourg in December
Strasbourg France in December is a beautiful city that is worth visiting. And best of all, it also makes for a great day trip from Paris to Strasbourg. With its festive Christmas markets, charming medieval architecture and festive Christmas lights, Strasbourg is a winter wonderland that’s perfect for a romantic getaway or a family vacation.